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A Correlation Between Language and ThinkingPolitical Correctness

A transition to pluralism and globalization has promoted various controversy about 'correctness.' Numerous cultural factors have been introduced world wide, and they are being a hot potato. One of Korean food culture, dog meat, could be one of this. Although it has a certain origin about why this culture happened, and it is declining nowadays, it got a lot of accusations from people around the world. Likewise, some movements that raise a question about things that have been taken for granted are recently at large. As you might have seen before, there are some movements to change some words which are widely used in daily lives, but lack of social values, such as gender equality. In this regard, it would be a great opportunity to think about why this is happening followed by 'Political Correctness(PC).'

To begin with, let's think about the correlation between language and thinking. PC is a movement that advocates multiculturalism and tries to correct it by resistance to language use or activity based on sexism or racism. This movement focuses on the use of language in the middle class of the United States and is based on discrimination and prejudice. In the 1980s, when it was developed around universities in the United States in order to correct unpleasant expressions of 'minority', it was a great achievement in correcting discriminatory expressions. Using the word 'handicapped,' or 'differently abled' instead of 'disabled' is one example of this movement. Even in Korea, we can easily find the similar phenomenon. For example, we purify the word '미망인(A woman who has not yet died with her husband)' and say '故 OOO's husband/wife.' Then what would be the source of this movement? Does changing a word really has a significant power?

Language does have an effect on what we think. We can say every thoughts are made from language and even when we let others know what we think, language is necessary. Simply put, if we continue to use a biased language on either side, our thoughts will naturally lean towards it. When we look this movement in PC's point of view, changing words that connotes discriminative points or strange origin, it is definitely remarkable on effort to change undesirable things. However, it seems that it also has another critical point. First of all, the word that is newly made or socially used can result in another prejudice. In addition, even if language is vital for us to think and speculate, it is very hard to say that language priors to thinking. That means, in spite of our effort to purify undesirable terms into good ones, our intrinsic recognition would not be changed as easily as we change how we let out a remark.

In the above example, what I think is, it is meaningless to find out which one goes first - language or thinking. I would like to say they are in the necessary and sufficient condition. Language is the medium of the human thoughts and language affects how human think, simultaneously. Still, even if it is not perfect, the thesis that our efforts toward proper language use and thinking must be made constantly doesn't change. I hope that these movements could continue toward rational direction.

최홍모  0763chm@naver.com

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